Corruption is a cross border problem

In today’s globalised world, states are increasingly interconnected through trade, investment, financial transactions and communications. This means that corruption in one country is a matter of concern in other countries because

• the harm and injustice becomes better known elsewhere

• it interferes with trade and investment opportunities in the country affected by corruption;

• it may lead to misuse of international development assistance; and

• corrupt networks based in one country operate abroad, bringing corruption to other countries; the potential risk is all the greater where a state weakened by corruption becomes a haven for organised crime.

In Africa, as in other regions, the corruption problem has a variety of cross-border components. Bribe payments are often arranged and made across borders.The proceeds of corruption are concealed by laundering funds across borders. (This may be done via deposits in foreign banks, through cross-border acquisitions or by transferring funds to anonymous shell companies or trusts in haven jurisdictions.) Individuals involved in corruption can often escape law enforcement efforts by leaving the country where investigations or prosecutions are taking place or where a court judgement has been handed down.

These features mean that corruption must be addressed on an international basis and that cross-border cooperation is essential for the prevention, detection and prosecution of corruption. Holding those suspected of corruption accountable, however, is often hampered by the complexities of such cooperation. Governments may be prevented from investigating or prosecuting the corrupt when evidence, witnesses or corrupt persons are located abroad. If foreign governments do not cooperate, enforcement of criminal law is inhibited. Similarly, when the proceeds of corruption are located abroad, it is difficult to recover funds or property without the assistance of foreign institutions.


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